- Violin Concerto in A minor
The violinist Tasmin Little has championed a good deal of neglected music from her native Britain, and here she makes a good case for a trio of rarely performed works. Each will remind the listener of other composers, but all are well-executed, virtuoso pieces that are performed with cool perfection. The "Violin Concerto in G minor, Op. 80," by the African-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, was written in response to an American commission for a work based on African-American themes; the composer discarded that idea and responded with a work strongly in the Dvorák vein, only to have the orchestral parts lost on a trans-Atlantic crossing (not, as was long thought, on the Titanic) and reconstructed yet again. Sample the first movement for a taste of Little's confidence in this music and ability to put it across. The "Suite for violin and orchestra" by Frederick Delius is an early, intensely lyrical work that anticipates in mood, if not in language, the composer's Impressionist tone poems. Probably the rarest of the three pieces is the 1928 "Violin Concerto in A minor" by Haydn Wood, best known as a composer of what is known in Britain as light music and in North America as easy listening. This is a pure Romantic work, between Brahms and Elgar but pushed in the direction of light music and film music, and its violin part is elegant indeed. Wood was a noted violinist, although this work was written for the Spanish player Antonio Brosa, who also premiered Benjamin Britten's concerto. The performances by Little and the BBC Philharmonic under Sir Andrew Davis are confident, idiomatic, and quite involved emotionally, and they make you think that these works could easily fit into concert programs once more.